Milan-Cortina 2026 Venues: Opportunities and Challenges

(ATR) The IOC has concerns despite an Italian venue plan that fully embraces Agenda 2020.

(ATR) The Milan-Cortina 2026 venue masterplan fully embraces Olympic Agenda 2020 utilizing 13 existing and temporary competition venues. However, the IOC says there are still concerns.

Needing to be built are the main Olympic Village in Milan, with an estimated 1,330 beds, and a new 15,000-capacity ice hockey arena – the Santa Giulia Ice Palace. At least two existing venues will require major reconstruction – the Eugenio Monti Sliding Center in Cortina and the Baselga di Pine Speed Skating Oval in Val di Fiemme.

The respective regions of Lombardy and Veneto have undertaken to fund all upgrade works for the publicly-owned venues.

In the IOC Evaluation Commission report, released May 24, concerns are raised about construction costs and the post-games financial models tied to the legacies of all four projects.

The Eugenio Monti bobsleigh track was a signature venue when Cortina hosted the 1956 Olympics and has a storied history dating to 1923. However, the 1,350-meter sliding track has been shut down since 2008 and needs major refurbishment. Cortina Mayor Gianpietro Ghedina told Around the Rings during the IOC Evaluation Commission visit in March that estimated cost for renovation is 40 million Euros. The IOC report states: "the budget appears to have been underestimated."

A Milan-Cortina 2026 spokesperson responded: "For the track in Cortina a feasibility study of a German company has evaluated the possibility of reusing a large part of the existing track. Moreover only the field of play will be covered and not the side spaces. We are therefore confident that the medium-long term legacy project will be respected."

The IOC report expressed similar concerns regarding the proposed speed skating venue. The Baselga di Pine Oval has hosted multiple world-class events since 1986, but needs a new roof to be brought to modern standards. Legacy plans include using the high-altitude facility as a post-Games training facility and also as a multi-sport recreational venue.

While current legislation allows for subsidies by the region, according to the IOC: "the post-Games operating budget appears to have been underestimated."

Although the report stresses similar financial and viability concerns for the new Olympic Village and Santa Giulia hockey arena, both future permanent venues have been planned irrespective of the Milan-Cortina bid.

The Olympic Village development could help satisfy Milan’s growing demand for university accommodations, offering affordable housing for students. The new downtown hockey arena will serve the city’s need for a multi-purpose indoor venue.

The Eugenio Monti sliding track, Cortina’s Alpine skiing slopes and historic Olympic Ice Stadium, which was the setting for the 1956 Olympic Games opening ceremony, ice hockey and figure skating events, are all considered legacy venues.

Milan-Cortina 2026 president Giovanni Malago acknowledges that plenty of work still lies ahead.

"We need to keep working intensely to enthusiastically promote the content of an ambitious and futuristic project, in line with the 2020 Agenda and with the reforms enacted by the IOC, a faithful reflection of the great desire of the cities, the regions, the territories involved and the entire country to host the Olympics – Dreaming Together!," Malago said.

Written by Brian Pinelli

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